In 1692, soldiers belonging to Clan Campbell were billeted on the MacDonalds of Glen Coe. But the 12th Chief of Glen Coe, Alastair Maclean, had been two days late in swearing an oath of allegiance to William of Orange. A military order came through, commanding the troops to kill their hosts in retaliation; it was drafted by John Dalrymple, 1st Earl of Stair and Secretary of State for Scotland.
Dalrymple’s coat of arms was thought to resemble the Nine of Diamonds in a pack of cards, and after the infamous Glen Coe massacre that card became known as ‘The Curse of Scotland’.
This is only one of many stories that attempt to explain why the Nine of Diamonds has such a bad name; but most historians agree that it’s the most convincing!
Photo copyright © Colin Woolf